Sunday, May 16, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a Virtue

Dusty and I have been having some good rides.  As always, we are working on her bending and stopping.  She has no shortage of enthusiasm and it’s hard for her to control her speeds, but she’s trying hard.  Lately we have been having more good rides than bad rides and I’m very proud of her.  Today we worked with cavaletti and did some figure-eights and serpentines.  We even managed a good pace at a balanced canter to the right. To the left not so much; seems she can’t find her lead in that direction just yet.  So we sort of wind up with a run for the roses switching leads back and forth. I guess she figures the faster she goes the more exciting it is for her.  I’m sure she’ll get it soon.

Working with Dusty has made me realize once again that, no matter how much you think you know, it only takes one green horse to show you how very much you still have to learn from each horse you ride.  For the past twenty years I’ve been very fortunate to have had two wonderful horses who were very well trained and knew their jobs. Thank you Lifeguard and Erik.  I do miss you.  That said, Dusty is an exploration in patience (mine & hers).  Unfortunately, she has no tolerance for taking it slow and wants to set off at a fast pace, throwing caution to the wind.  I can’t count the number of times we’ll be trotting along at a steady pace and she‘ll break into a canter out of nowhere.  Apparently, she has places to go and things to see and I’m holding her back, literally. She’s teaching me that patience is indeed a virtue and I hope she’s learning the same from me.  Calmness and evenness in dealing with an over-eager horse is a must.

I’ve found that taking a deep relaxing breath and relaxing into the saddle helps both of us.  If I relax my whole body she seems to do the same.

I sometimes wish her training could move along faster but it is what it is for now and we will work together to make our rides enjoyable for both of us.   My daughter and I were actually having a discussion about how, in the past, so many of the trainers we’ve known lacked the patience it takes to bring a horse along correctly.  We’ve been at many barns where the horses were placed in situations that were not conducive to training properly.  The force that was used to make up a horse quickly and sell it was unacceptable and it seemed the horses learned to robotically go through the motions, but never truly understood what they were being asked to do.  I suppose I could do the same with Dusty – put a stronger bit on her, or some draw reins, and bend her to my will, but  I’ve always felt sorry for the horses who were trained without actually learning the basics and never seem to comply willingly.  Instead, they are simply forced into accepting the training that was meted out to them. It’s a bad situation for all concerned - the buyer and the horse.  It’s slow going, but if more trainers would only learn compassion and take the time to consider the horse and its needs, perhaps many more horses would enjoy their jobs and their lives, and make better partners in the long run. Something to think about…

Until next time

Quote for Today
There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.

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